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Remote workers at ‘significant risk’ of cybercrime

Working on a terrace

Flexible Middle East businesses face security and privacy threats.

September 17, 2013 3:17 by

Working flexibly and remotely may indeed be the future of modern business – as we and others have previously written – with nearly half of the world’s employees enjoying flexible working conditions.

However, according to online security and privacy experts, unprotected remote working and social media activities pose significant risks to both employees and businesses across the Middle East region.

Of the 125 million internet users in Arab countries, 53 million actively use social media, according to a report by the Dubai School of Government.

AnchorFree, makers of the popular Hotspot Shield VPN software, says that people who work outside the office are becoming particularly prone to attacks from identity thieves and malware.

In a statement, released yesterday, the security and privacy software company referred to a recent study by Independent Security Evaluators of Baltimore, which discovered that 13 of the most popular off-the-shelf wireless routers could be exploited by a ‘moderately skilled’ attacker.

It adds that WiFi, in public locations such as coffee shops and airports, are highly susceptible to targeted attacks.

David Gorodyansky, CEO of AnchorFree, says that everything from seemingly harmless web searches and social media activities can “trigger all manner of mayhem” – that is confidential information falling into the wrong hands.

“Cyber criminals are getting smarter and remote workers are big targets,” says Gorodyansky. “Businesses clearly need to do more to protect their employees. Modern workers are no longer anchored to a desk and lead far more mobile and interactive lifestyles. There are huge advantages to this, of course, but certain security measures must be in place.”

Gorodyansky suggests that employees should be educated on the basics of simple security measures, such as updating passwords properly, avoiding sharing too much data on social media platforms, clearing cookies and using technologies such as VPNs to safeguard privacy and user identity on the internet.

The study concludes that while awareness of these risks exist, a lot more should be done for active prevention.

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